City Hall

Mike Rawlings Wants to Shoot Southern Dallas With Bullets. Of Economic Development.

When I wrote yesterday about Mayor Mike backtracking from his backtrack on the Trinity Toll Road, I glossed over the real purpose of his visit to the Oak Cliff Chamber, which was to pitch his GrowSouth initiative.

For the uninitiated, GrowSouth is the plan to revitalize southern Dallas, which Rawlings called "an investment opportunity," since the area contains 60 percent of the city's land but only 15 percent of its tax base.

To do so, Rawlings has outlined a 10-point action plan, which mixes specific projects with broad common-sense proposals like strengthening neighborhoods, improving the area's schools and changing people's assumptions about crime and safety. Among the projects is developing the Lancaster corridor, making Jefferson Boulevard the Main Street of southern Dallas and improving infrastructure around UNT-Dallas and Paul Quinn College.

All of which will take a community effort, with everybody pitching in. Why, just last weekend, Rawlings took part in the citywide cleanup.

"I'm not bragging, but I mowed two lawns," he said.

It's the first time he's mowed in 30 years, he said, in a statement that would do Mitt Romney proud. It's certainly not for lack of opportunity.

The city will have a role in guiding and encouraging development, though its steps must be deliberate.

"The bullets we have in our gun at City Hall, we want to fire in a focused manner," Rawlings said.

Then he told the audience that he used to be an investor "in a concept called Furr's Cafeteria." A Furr's that was opened not long ago in the Redbird area is now thriving, Rawlings said, which just goes to show.

Wait. Hold on a second. So in trying dispel the notion that southern Dallas is a dangerous, crime-riddled backwater, you say the city will shoot up neighborhoods with bullets of economic development and name-drop Furr's Cafeteria?

Instead of a metaphor that brings to mind violent death, how bout planting trees? Those at least are non-threatening. And can't we aim reach a little higher than Furr's? Maybe Luby's?

Then again, maybe Luby's is too North Dallas.

"We don't need another North Dallas. I like it in North Dallas, but I'm kind of tired of North Dallas," Rawlings said.

People applauded, then Rawlings said he was just kidding. Which sounded familiar.

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Eric Nicholson
Contact: Eric Nicholson